Do you feel drained? Facing endless change, new demands, tightening resources? To-day’s shifting workplace pressures can make us feel drained when we need to feel energised, strong and flexible. Get slinky; like a slinky you can learn ways to overcome challenges and move forward. So the good news is that resilience can be learned (Southwick & Charney, 2012), thus increasing your ability to cope well in the face of all that is draining.
In the workplace thinking of resilience as a slinky (Hall & Ellison, 2015) can be more helpful than the image of bouncing back. A slinky can extend and stretch over a blockage (in your case a workplace challenge) and spring forward to gather itself up again. So, how can you get yourself flexible?
Paying attention to your physical health can be a vital first step. The benefits of exercise on health and mood are now well documented. You may also choose to take exercise alone and this can offer you space for a second key element of getting flexible and resilient.
Being self-reflective is shown to really support personal resilience by encouraging us to take time to think about ourselves and our reactions to situations, as well as offering time to think about important issues we are handing.
Reflecting will enable us to increase our self-awareness; this helps with understanding one’s own triggers and so being able to identify what works for you. Each of us responds differently, the important point is to know ourselves and be aware what triggers may get us thinking negatively and going down that negative path. The inner voice can be powerful, loud and destructive. We need to understand our own thinking patterns and notice when we are giving ourselves negative messages – be they about ourself or our situation. Once noticed, at least one can recognise it. That is the start of choosing to change one’s thinking patterns.
To be resilient we need to manage our mental and emotional energy. You can check out your inner voice and ensure that you are using your energy positively, thinking about useful things and not going over unhelpful situations. A positive mindset will take us from that negative cycle to one where we are in control and seeking out a better way forward.
So, by taking time for exercise and developing our self-reflection we can be more physically and mentally healthy and thus more alert when at work.
To tackle our challenges with the flexibility of a slinky we also need plenty of positive energy. Feeling drained and negative, we will reinforce those negative internal messages ‘can’t do’ when what we need is the internal positive voice of ‘can do.’
A key element of developing a positive mindset is to know and use our workplace strengths. Strengths in the workplace can be defined as those “underlying qualities that energise us, contribute to our personal growth and lead to peak performance.” (Brewerton & Brook, 2006).
Choosing to work in ways that are our natural preferences will energise us and focus us on delivering sound results. Once we have identified our workplace strengths, then we can make positive choices about how we tackle tasks and take on new goals. It’s about HOW we choose to do things at work.
By working in ways that energise us, we will be able to think more clearly, manage our emotional reactions and work in productive ways with others. All this can lead to delivering positive outcomes and workplace satisfaction.
What are the benefits of resilience in the workplace?
There is a wealth of research now showing the importance of workplace resilience. The benefits can be summarised as:
- Individual: reduced burnout; higher attendance levels and increased motivation;
- Team: positive team work; increased collaboration and a greater ability to manage complexity;
- Business/ organisational: higher productivity, improved customer service and greater workplace safety.
Staff engagement, retention and well-being are shown to positively correlate with resilience. Here we will focus on personal resilience and how this can be strengthened.
Identify your first step towards being more flexible, take care of your mental and physical health. By being positive, you can strengthen your resilience and move forward with energy and higher motivation.
Hall, L & Ellison, R. (2015). Resilience: think of a slinky. Coaching at Work, Sept/Oct., vol. 10, issue 5.
Southwick, S. M. & Charney, D. S. (2012). Resilience; the science of mastering life’s greatest challenges. Cambridge University Press, UK.